In a sudden burst of enthusiasm for the international growth of Aussie Rules both Geelong and Port Adelaide's coaches have spoken positively about the sport getting a foothold outside of Australia. Mark "Bomber" Thompson, coach of the Cats, speaking ahead of his club's match in London against Port, singled out China as a highly desirable market to push into, speculating that his club may play there next year (presumably against Melbourne). There's also an online poll WFN readers may be interested in answering.
Tianjin Normal University, China's first all-Chinese Australian Football team, will take on the all-Australian Beijing Bombers on October 22nd. This will be the first ever China vs Australia game of Aussie Rules Football, to be played at the International School Beijing at 1pm. Five of the best Chinese players from this match will then be sponsored by the Beijing Bombers to join the team for a match against the Shanghai Tigers later this year.
The 7th Annual Asian Championships of Australian Football, held on the 26th of August at Cibubur, just outside of Jakarta, have been hailed a great success by all involved and once again raised the bar on the standard of footy played.
As promised, the tournament produced high quality footy and evenly matched teams with the Singapore Wombats the standouts and eventual Grand Final winners, downing the Bali Geckos in a rematch of last year's Asian Champs Grand Final, 9.5.59 to 3.8.26 - Read on for Grand Final and Ladder results.
Whereas once the Asia region was seen by the international footy community as being a bunch of expats having a kick in the park, it is now gaining recognition as an area of real growth potential for the sport.
Editor: Thanks to regular reader Sean for this report on Asian footy in Australian media.
This Saturday the 26th of August, over 200 Aussie Rules Footballers lace up their boots and take to the Jakarta Bintangs' home ground in Ciburbur to compete in the 2006 ANZ Asian Australian Football Championships. Despite the withdrawal of teams from Shanghai and the Philippines, this year's tournament attended by the Hong Kong Dragons, Japan Goannas, Thailand Tigers, Malaysian Warriors, Singapore Wombats, Bali Geckos and, of course, the Jakarta Bintangs promises to be one of the closest fought yet. In anticipation, we take a quick look at the competing teams.
Steve Harris, CEO of the AFL's Melbourne Demons, has announced that the club's planned tour of China, set for later this year had been cancelled. Hopefully this proves only a minor setback for the sport's development in China, with the club remaining committed to developing football in the third largest and most populous country in the world and still planning to play an exhibition match against the Geelong Cats in Tianjin during 2007.
In other news, Footy's ambassador to China Tom Mattessi was interviewed on Australia's SBS Radio. Mattessi was quizzed about the locals' grasp of the game and gave an insight into the inroads football has made in China.
The Japan Samurai have completed their four-match 2006 tour to Australia, with their final match played on Sunday August 13 against Melbourne Vietnam at Windy Hill, spiritual home of the AFL's Essendon Bombers.
As has been the norm on recent tours, the Japanese brought a developmental side on tour, featuring players they hope could step up to IC standard in time for 2008. The Samurai lost to Howlong in their first match, were defeated by Box Hill North Superrules in their second, hung on to defeat Box Hill North in a nail-biter, then were soundly beaten by Melbourne Vietnam.
Pictures from the Japan-Vietnam match follow, full match reports and scores will appear in the next few days.
The Japanese national Aussie Rules side, the Samurais, are touring Australia from the 4th to the 14th of August. The team will compete against amateur Australia sides Howlong, Box Hill North, Box Hill Super Rules and their final match against Melbourne Vietnam.